Saturday, February 20, 2010

How to start a blog

I have something to say! ...now what?

Lots of people have been asking lately about starting a blog. How do I do it? Does it cost money? How often should I write in it? Does anyone care what I have to say?

How do I blog?!

You sure have lots of questions. The good news is, you may already be on the right track.

If you have a Facebook or a Myspace page, you are already a blogger (yay! That was easy!). Think about this: once a week, or maybe even every day, you have something so important to say that you want all your friends to know, so you post a status. If you want to maintain a separate blog, then instead of posting a status update, make a blog post. Then think about all the comments people would make on your status and address those questions or comments in your post. For example, your Facebook status might be "Selina Ariel Shehan: is exhausted but so happy to be here!" Your blog post, on the other hand, would say: "What a crazy week! I'm gearing up for the SCC craft fair next weekend and cutting mat board for my paintings. Last night I stayed up until 2 a.m. gluing bails onto my new pendant designs while my cat conspired to knock my entire process onto the basement floor and do a victory dance in the mess...." ...and so on.

In summary: take what you were going to say anyhow and elaborate. Elaborate as hard as you can. Dig deep and be descriptive.

That's the "how," now here's the "what:" What will you write about?

Unless you hold a PhD in something, you probably aren't qualified to dispense information on a single topic with any level of authority (but go ahead and do it anyhow, this is the internet, after all).

If you aren't so bold, stick with what you know. What is something that you know more about than anyone else. Take a minute to think about it. I already know the answer, so I'll just wait...

The answer is "you!" You know more about yourself than anyone else in the world. Now, obviously you are a very complex individual, so you may want to narrow this focus to a few things about yourself; perhaps your hobbies, your family life, your musings on the universe; whatever. But you know you, and nobody knows you better.

To get started writing about yourself, take the example in the first part of this post (use your status updates) and see what you can come up with. Don't worry about what's happening right now, just scroll back through your old updates and take a minute to think about each one. How were you feeling when you posted it? What would you share about it if you were telling someone you'd never met? Think about "future you," when you go back and read these updates 20 years from now, will you understand what you were talking about? This is your chance to keep a record of a place in time.

Use these mental exercises to get your wheels turning whenever you are stuck for blogging topics. If you don't have a Facebook or Myspace page, try flipping through photo albums or journals and do the same thing. Take what's already there and expand it, create a full picture for your reader.

Congratulations, you are a writer. Now you need a place to write.

Your inquiring minds want to know:
Does it cost money to have a blog?

No! Blogs are free. What they cost is your time and mental energy. They are free because the blog hosting companies make money from selling advertising space to businesses.

Two free sites I would recommend for blogging are:

www.blogger.com
and
www.wordpress.com

both are easy to use and they allow for customization if you are so inclined. You can pick a "theme" (a ready-made color scheme and design) from a list of templates, or you can design your own layout. Blogs are hosted online, this means the information lives on a server somewhere. You won't save the blog to your desktop, you won't need to be on your own computer to use it, and it will be available for you to work on anywhere that has internet access.

When you set up a blogging account, you'll be able to name your blog, create posts, upload pictures, and all sorts of fun stuff. If you are stuck picking a name for your blog, my go-to favorite is "The life and adventures of _________" (insert your name in the blank). It leaves a lot of room for movement, as long as you are still you, you can write about anything you want :-D

How often should I write in my blog?
When you are first starting out, I would recommend writing something, ANYTHING, every single day.

Why? To create a habit.

You need to train yourself to log thoughts away in the back of your mind to write about later. When you get used to the idea that every evening at 7:50, you will sit down and write about whatever strikes you, then your mind will start to prepare for it and it won't seem so daunting. I use this method for going to the gym. I go almost everyday regardless of how I feel. Often on my way there, I think, "I'll probably just sit on a recumbent bike and read a magazine today, but at least I'm going." Inevitably, when I get there and enter the familiar atmosphere, I'm inspired to work-out for real and not just fake it. That's what you want to achieve with writing. Fake it 'til you make it! Show up for your writing session everyday whether you think you'll be able to write or not.

So now you are writing, but...does anyone care what you have to say? I say "YES," of course they do. The all-around, smashingly good thing about the internet is that you are bound to find somebody, somewhere who shares your views on something. You may have family or friends who already care what you are all about. But if you don't, don't worry about it, write for you.

Writing can relieve stress, preserve memories, inspire others, become actions, and change lives.

It's good for you, so go to it!

4 comments:

greg said...

smashingly good advice, if I may say so myself!!

~ selina ~ said...

You must! That's the whole point :-D

Lisa Crone said...

Hi there! Just wanted to leave a quick note. I LOVE your header, the fact you named your car Geordi LaForge AND the unique style you have brought to Rings & Things!! :) Very cool!! So glad to see people who love what they do and living life!

~ selina ~ said...

Thank you, Lisa! I appreciate you taking the time to read my blog and leave a comment. It's nice to know that people are listening :-)